Desalination project `not dropped at any stage'

Special Correspondent

Jayalalithaa rebuts Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin's statement on the project

CHENNAI: The Chennai desalination project was at no stage abandoned during the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime, the AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa said on Thursday.

Responding to the Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin's statement, she recalled that tenders were invited twice in 2003. In the first instance, the last date for submission of tender documents was August 27, 2003. Though 26 firms purchased tender applications, only two submitted the documents. As they did not submit earnest money deposit, their applications were rejected. In the second instance, as on the last date of December 18, 2003, three submitted the tender documents. As two of them did not remit EMD, the tender committee decided not to open their documents. The bids submitted by the third applicant were opened and scrutinised.

In the meantime, one of the rejected applicants went to the Madras High Court. In October 2004, the High Court decided the case in favour of the State Government.

However, the documents of the third applicant were not found acceptable. So, they were rejected. This led to inviting tenders for the third time.

Seven bids were received, as on the last date of February 16, 2005. They were opened on June 29, 2005.

The documents of the lowest bidder, IVRCL, were accepted on August 4, 2005. On September 13, 2005, an action plan for a 100-million litres a day (MLD) plant was launched in "my presence," she said. After all the efforts, the plan should have fructified.

But, this did not happen, Ms Jayalalithaa said.

She questioned why it was insisted that report of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute should be obtained when a technical experts' committee of the Union Environment and Forests Ministry had cleared the project.